To My Baby’s Day Care Teacher

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It’s 7:30 in the morning, and I catch myself dragging my feet into your classroom. I’m busy complaining about how I’ve been up for an hour and I barely slept. Meanwhile, you’ve been here since six o’clock. You turned the lights on in your classroom before I even opened my eyes. You arranged toys, prepared food, and tidied up a room that will soon return to disarray when the kids arrive.

I walk in and expect you to notice me. You do a great job of greeting me by name even though you have thirty other things to do. There are several parents dropping off their children, one of the babies is screaming, another is starting to fuss, and another needs a diaper change. You’re simultaneously feeding a bottle to a baby in your arms while comforting another who wasn’t ready for his parents to leave.

As if I’ve forgotten that you’ve cared for my baby for half a year, I remind you what size bottles he needs, what food he can’t have, and what time he prefers to eat. You smile and take note, even though you know him–and every other baby–like the back of your hand.

Before I leave, I spend an obnoxious amount of time kissing my baby, squeezing him, and begging him to behave. All the while, you stand by smiling and promising me he will.

When I return nine hours later, you’re still there. Your shirt is stained, and your hair is pulled back. Your feet are tired, and your back aches from bending, lifting, and carrying all day. But, your smile hasn’t faded. You greet me and prepare my son for his trip home, singing to him and telling him he is loved. Soon enough, I leave, knowing I’ll see you again in a few hours.

But, what if I don’t see you again? What if you decide not to return? It’d be a shame if I left everything unspoken. I have so much to say, and so much to thank you for.

I know you’re tired. You work long hours, and I doubt you’re compensated properly. You earn minimum wage while you try to save up for your next dream. Maybe you’re saving so you can go to college, start your own businesses, or buy a better car. Whatever it is, I wish I could provide it for you. Your life’s work is helping my child grow, and there is no price tag for that.

I wish I knew you better. You know everything about my son, yet I don’t even know your last name. You pour your heart and soul into the babies you see every day, and I wonder if you have children of your own. Maybe you have suffered loss. Maybe you can’t have children. Maybe you have your own babies that you are away from. It hurts my heart to know you may bury that pain every day.

Your feet are sore. You’re tired of washing your work shirt each night. You’re underappreciated by those around you. You’ve seen diapers far worse than I have. You’ve been on the receiving end of complaints for things over which you have no control. You spend hours of your day feeding other people’s children, but get only a short break to feed yourself. I know you’re exhausted and undoubtedly stressed.

But I also know you’re selfless. You’re creative. You’re caring, gentle, and kind. You make my son feel safe, and you give him love.

It’s not easy for me to be away from my baby. You know this. And because you know this, you do your best to raise my son into the human being I want him to be. You’re doing such a good job. I wish I remembered to tell you that more often.

You are like the building blocks my son loves to play with – adaptable, colorful, and full of potential. Your job is the most important job in the entire world, and I know I don’t thank you enough.

Sincerely,

A Day Care Mom

61 COMMENTS

  1. Heather, I found your blog because of my daughter, she is the woman that you speak of. She is the daycare worker that takes a son from a parent early in the morning, she is also the same one who hands him back to them at the end their work day. Thank you for realizing her work is important. As far as I can tell she didn’t respond to your blog, although I know she appreciated it or she would wouldn’t have shared and I would not of seen it. You mentioned you don’t really know that much about your daycare worker, so I thought I would share with you about my daughter the daycare worker. She graduated high school and took college courses until she received her associates degree, all while working in a daycare. She got married and had child of her own, all while working in the daycare profession, and then she received her bachelors degree, still working in the daycare. She has enrolled in the masters program and yet continues to work in the daycare. She has the ability and knowledge to take a job in another place and yet she stays in the daycare. She loves her son, but she also loves her KIDS, those children that come to her center are HER KIDS as long as they are there. She has shared with me so many stories about her KIDS, some are heart breaking and some just make me smile. She knows what make those children hungry to learn and she knows what makes them want to run to a corner and cry and when they do that she knows how to get them out of the corner and makes them smile. She has had to take a crying child from its mother/fathers arms because they can’t bare to be without their parent and end up making that child look forward to tomorrow when their parents bring them back. “Daycare” workers are very much an important part of most working parents life and yet I think it as over looked as hot water. You don’t think about it so much until you don’t have it. As a mother who overlooked how important MY daycare was and it took my one of my children 20 some odd years later point out to me how extremely important those people were to me, I am very thankful that you realized it 20 years before I did.

    • I too am a child care worker and I’m not going to get into the semantics of what we call the position. The point of this article is being overshadowed by this trivial title squabble. We need to thank this mother for her beautiful tribute to a wonderful teacher. Everyday, I deal with everything mentioned in this article and I cried when I read this. Not for myself… but for the fact that now I know there is another teacher who’s heart is so invested into this… just like me. I see so many child care workers come and go, whether it be for the money, the stress of the job, or whatever, but it takes a person with a heart for educating children to be a teacher. You don’t have to have a degree to be a teacher. You just have to have a heart for growing others in knowledge and understanding. That takes patience, perseverance, and love. I love each and every child I work with. I never see a child with a behavior issue as a “trouble maker” but as a puzzle to be worked and solved. It is really unfortunate that there isn’t better compensation for early child care teachers. I am not even eligible for health insurance… and we all know how germs can be rampant with little ones. I am often getting colds and bugs and have to endure it on my own most of the time. I, like the girl in this article, could easily get another job that DOES offer health benefits and DOES pay more than minimum wage and ISN’T so emotionally and physically taxing, but I love my kids in my class and I love seeing them grow and learn, I love knowing that I was a part of who they will one day become. The rest is small potatoes when you do it for the love of it. 🙂

  2. Great blog, I’d going to leave this here because we need to start somewhere……….. please help us in eliminating the word “day care”. You described something SO much more and then devalued your provider by using “old” language! This person is an early childhood educator providing child care in an early childhood education center.

    day care=daytime care for the needs of people who cannot be fully independent

    child care=supervision and nurturing of a child provided by an organized child care center

    • While I agree with you on the proper term being early childhood educator, it is up the site to make this distinction and educate parents. The writer likely has her at a site that refers to their business as a daycare then as a “daycare.” The fact that she took the time to stop and say these words period is so thoughtful, and will go so far in validating those who work so hard.

    • YES. This is so important! As another early childhood educator, nothing hurts my heart more than being called a daycare provider. I am a teacher at a school, with a degree and education just like any other teacher.

      • Nothing hurts your heart more than getting called a totally appropriate title? More than a hurt or sick child? Ridiculous. You care for children during the day, then you are a daycare provider. It’s descriptive, not reductive. You are being overly sensitive and sniffy.

    • I agree that we need to eliminate the term “day care,” and recognize the professional arena of “child care,” but not for the definitions you provided.

      Early care and education is staffed with professionals who are increasingly better trained, better educated, mostly undercompensated, very committed to proving the best education & care to “children,” not to “days.”

      This care is not to meet “the needs of people who cannot be fully independent” and may be provided in centers or family child care homes for children whose families cannot care for them due to their pursuing education or being employed or other reasons which prevent them from proving that care themselves.

  3. You began great the middle flailed and then you tried to reign it in. First of all many of the daycare providers are called early childhood professionals because they dedicate their time to gaining education on the job training ceus degrees yes degrees in all they do for children they are accomplished artistic business savvy and run the highest quality programming dedicated to the service of children and families and working side by side to advocate and develop their industry. They create marketing plans work within their communities to create partnerships and even assist agencies and government in advocating for your town or city to get increased funding opportunities for all. They do all of this while feeding burping changing cooking cleaning planning lesson plans studying new rules and regulations while simultaneously creating marketing updating records creating programs to meet the documentation required to establish and maintain said programming and behind that smile is one amazing person balancing her world her children her marriage her business her education her hobbies her career there will never be an appropriate thankyou award celebration or gift that she will hold more dearly then your child’s smile and your favor. Uplift her pray over her and do something everyday to set her smile in your heart . I thankyou for your blog it was a surface we could delve more deeply in to enrich the soil of the seed your early childhood professional has planted

  4. @ Daycare Mom
    Thank you for taking the time to write this. I saw this on my Facebook page and almost didn’t open it thinking it was yet, another bashing on those in a very tough field. Imagine my surprise when I saw this touching post. Thank you

  5. I just want to thank you for your blog. It was not meant for me, but I thank you for writing it. I have always had a love for children and their development in life since anyone would allow me to watch their child. I’ve worked at daycares, babysat, and lots of nanny jobs, but one thing I’ve never ever heard was a thank you the way you just did. It warms my heart. I do it for the kids that’s it. I want to be that one person they can say brightens their day when their comfort zone of mom and dad is gone. I want to be the one the say I was inspired to do great things because of her. Sometimes people have taken for granted what I do and it chips away a bit because they complain more than praise. I have a daughter too now but I still give my 100 percent. the best part is my daughter sees that, learns and wants to help like mommie. Anyway back to you, thank you for lifting my spirits. Whether it is for me or not I took what I needed from it very much to continue my dream of being a teacher and opening an after school program for girls to learn ediquette, self respect and love for themselves.

  6. No: as a former day care worker I like the word day care. I like the use of traditional, blending with the new and modern world. In fact some of the child care centers in my town are called day care. I do not think we need to spend time arguing about symantics but we do need to spend time working on the great divide among us: those that get the royal treatment in child care and those that go without….for whatever reason!!

    • No: as a former day care worker I like the word day care. I like the use of traditional, blending with the new and modern world. In fact some of the child care centers in my town are called day care. I do not think we need to spend time arguing about symantics but we do need to spend time working on the great divide among us: those that get the royal treatment in child care and those that go without….for whatever reason!!

  7. Thank you Cindy, you said it all ?
    I just wanted to say the same what you said about your daughter. Some of us are in this profession to stay. We went to school and have degree in early childhood. We took more classes about child’s growth and development than you could imagine. This profession is our choice and we are here to make a difference! And please, don’t forget this is a profession, a very important profession.

  8. I agree that it was not day care but my child’s first experiences with education. She learned her colors, numbers, how to write her name, all the nursery rhymes, manners, how to like vegetables, how to share….from ladies that loved her as their own. When you find a great provider please praise them. As an educator I know back then I could not have done what they did…screaming babies, walking toddlers, feedings, soothing children…I was the nervous wreck when I left her but saw the smile and the clinging child when it was time to leave. We don’t give the good providers enough praise. Thank you to all “extended moms” for the care you give the children you have everyday.

  9. Tears, what a wonderful letter. I am a daycare teacher and it made me testy eyed to know a parent sees the levers Day life of the daycare teacher! Thanks for sharing!!

  10. Tears, what a wonderful letter. I am a daycare teacher and it made me teary eyed to know a parent sees the life of the daycare teacher! Thanks for sharing!!

  11. Daycare workers are never paid the money they deserve. Their bosses will tell them they are awesome, even give them a Christmas gift in some cases, or throw a Christmas party. These workers deserve so much more. They have families to raise themselves in most cases and minimum wage is so unfair. If you own a daycare please be mindful of this as you balance your own checkbooks each month! I have a friend that works in that fields and she had to sell her house after her husband passed away. She moved into a way smaller place and struggles every single week to make ends meet. If her child is sick she can’t work and she does not get paid. She is on food stamps and still struggles. She is such an incredible person and mom who works really hard. She has been with the same daycare for going on five years and has asked for raises. She received 10 cents an hour increase twice. Her boss lives on a lake has a cabin in the mountains a boat a jet ski a timeshare and has acquired all this in the 5 years that this woman has worked for her. I would not begrudge that she has done so well but Please reward you workers because they deserve it. They love the children they are taking care of each day and should be compensated for the excellent care they give!

    • Anne, I am an owner of a program and without disbelief I whole hardly know that the teachers I are the heart of our program. Our team values are the same with each other as they are for our children and families. I guide this team and wear many hats to continually support our teacher so that as together we can offer highest quality of care and early education not just for children and families but for teacher as well. My point is that if you are a teacher in a program and you are dedicating part of your lives for others than it is important to remember that we can only care for others if we are caring for ourselves., work for a program that is providing early care and education for the right reasons and you will be treated like the professionals you are. There are programs that give back almost every dime to the teaching team and the program year after year. I am the director and owner of one of them. Don’t stay stuck work for a program/director that supports the heart ❤️ of the program, the teachers!

  12. Although I can understand that this letter was to thank day care workers, it feels sort of degrading to them. The lady who replied at the first comment, well I’m glad she did, because she mentioned that the fact that this lady was already highly educated and not working at the day care centre to make money. Just because someone is a daycare worker why must we assume they are struggling or working towards another dream, why is we can’t accept maybe that is her dream? People work in certain fields because it’s their passion. Anyways I’m sure it was written out of love but maybe the writer didn’t take a moment to realize this daycare worker is proud of herself and enjoys her work.

  13. Thank you Robin Hewitt Jones for already saying what I was just about to say. Words are more powerful than we tend to believe. Early Childcare Education and the language to describe it is constantly evolving with the aim of respecting children, families, and the entire field.

  14. I am a toddler teacher at a daycare. This was on point. It made me tear up because it’s everything I hoped my kiddos parents would think about me. I was really touching to hear these words. Thank you!?

  15. The only thing I don’t like is the last part. “And because you know this, you do your best to raise my son into the human being I want him to be. You’re doing such a good job. I wish I remembered”

    What? This talks as if working parents don’t raise their kids. That part is totally offensive but the rest is sweet.

    • I think what the ‘raising my child’ meant was there are a lot of children that are in day cares for extended days,more than 9.5 hoursa day for the whole week, so in essence by the time you get your child home, fed supper, bathed and in bed, yes, us early childhood educators are helping raise your children. We educate, care and nuture each and every child we work for! And we love them all! Just sayin…in all fairness, she did not mean we Educators are the sole raisers of your children.

  16. Then you tie all the babies legs together after the parents are gone so they cant get away or move! Yeah! It happened and they got caught doing it and apparently it was on a regular basis, I have also watched from afar as my son with Cerebral palsy cries and tries to pull himself out of his wheelchair as the other kids all play on the equipment, he cries and writhes and tries to play with the children whilst the extra care giver that was employed for his needs ignores him completely as she and the other carers stand around gossiping! Not even noticing his anguish! there’s the flip side to that!

    • I’m sorry that happened to you and your child, but please don’t generalize all child care centers because you had a bad experience at one. There are bad caregivers, and not so great centers but many many other fantastic ones to contrast. .

  17. Why can’t some of you just appreciate the fact that she is thanking them for raising her son an not pick at the way she wrote it the meaning is there an she wasn’t degrading anyone not saying they are just there to make money she’s acknowledging that their job has importance an that she expects someone to look after her son everyday an never really appreciate them for who they are what life struggles they have or them as a person. give her a break at least she admits she never really appreciated them I bet half parents don’t recognise this.

  18. As a recently retired early childhood teacher, I can also identify with what has been written here. Every year that I got a new group of little students, I bonded with them almost as if they were my own. Letting go at the end of each school year was always so tough, but in so many cases I have become lifetime friends with my former students and their families. Yes, it is hard and many times not as monetarily rewarding as other fields, but getting sincere thank yous like this one means more than you can ever know.

  19. Absolutely loved this blog!!! I am a day care teacher, and I love it, I am constantly told. “I don’t know how you do it” I love the kids, that’s how I do it!!!! Never do parents come out, and say the words that are in this article…. But I know how appreciated I am to a couple….. And this article, was just so cool to read:) thank you

  20. Thank you from a day care provider!
    I absolutely loved working in a day care helping care for and educate all the beautiful children I did, whilst their parents were out working to give their children the best life possible and providing for them.
    I cannot wait to start working with children again when I am well. I also love being called a day care provider because that is what I do I provide care to the children and educate them, whilst their parents make the money to give them the early education they want for them.
    I think it is beautiful that this parent has taken the time to appreciate and realise what we do is not an easy job like many people think, we don’t just play games and read stories all day we teach them from a young age. We help teach them to crawl, walk, talk, read, write, recognise colours, shapes and sounds. We help parents keep the children in a routine, we help toilet train them, we take time to give them the one on one time they need to teach them right from wrong and manners. We laugh with them, we make them feel better and pick them up when they fall down, we feed them, we nurse them to sleep, we help them make the cards and draw the pictures that you cherish and we get them ready and excited to tell mummy and daddy what they have done and learnt today…But more than that we get to see the look on a parents face when they come to pick their child up after a tiring hard day at work and they are welcomed with hugs and kisses from their happy child. Being a child care provider was and still is my dream job I love what I do

  21. It’s interesting that so many respondents took such different things from it, focusing on a word or meaning that has impacted them. I am a childcare worker, educated to be and practicing early childhood education in a daycare center. I’ve worked in childcare for 23 years and will get up tomorrow to greet the kids as usual. No I don’t believe childcare workers are payed what they are worth. I haven’t worried much what label is used to describe what we do, the kids know who I am. I love what I do. I could have done something else but I really don’t think it would have been as fun, challenging or personally rewarding to me. I get told frequently ” You are so good at this, you could be a teacher.’ I cant help but find that funny. I am a teacher. We have two learning circles and craft, nature walks and excursions.It’s like most any center I guess. For me its the concentrated work on social interactions and teaching compassion, honesty, conflict resolution, leadership, sharing, self pride and a huge array of other attributes that being in a group all day together provides with endless opportunity. I’m not saying that parents don’t do this. I am a parent as well. Its just the group dynamic makes it condensed and a faster pace maybe? It’s an exhausting day but so worthwhile. Thanks for this blog post. It made me smile. I’ll share it with my co-workers.

  22. As the mother of a young adult I must admit openly that is was very disappointed when she did not want to go to college a long term degree.
    After reading this blog I can say no college degree could teach her to do all things she does daily for so many kids. She is am amazing teacher and caregiver to some beautiful pre-k students.
    She shines when talking about “her” students. She loves all of them unconditionally and strives to do a great job everyday.
    Thanks for reminding me that sometimes other choices in life leave a profound imprint on the life of another much bigger then a piece of paper ever will.
    Sincerely,
    Her Life Her Choices Mom!

  23. What a beautifully written letter straight from your heart.
    I am a daycare provider, child care provider, or an early learning and care professional and have been for 33 years. But, to 6 beautiful and lively children every Monday thru Friday, I’m Aunt Sue. That’s the only title that matters. It isn’t what we call ourselves, It’s how we go about our days with the children that matters. what we provide for them. What we offer to them.
    Start seeing the difference you make in a child’s llife and stop worrying about what you’re called.

  24. Oh for the love of Pete. So much hate for someone trying to thank a person for doing a thankless job. I’ve been in childcare for most of my adult life. This lady hit the nail on the head. Semantics aside, this piece is pure gold. I have nothing but love for the author. Thank you for your appreciation and empathy.

  25. Beautifully said and we do love caring for kids and we are dedicated and not paid enough but we still do it because each child’s smile, laughter, hug keeps us keep going

  26. It sure was nice how you mentioned that a daycare teacher is the type of person who greets and smiles at the parents despite the idea that he/she has a lot of things to do. For me, if a teacher will show such signs of respect and acknowledgment, I will feel more comfortable knowing my baby is in good hands. Hopefully, the teacher I will have is like that. Thanks for sharing!

  27. It was really nice when you talked about how the teacher still responded with a smile even though she already knows the best time to feed the child and the things that he can’t have like he was her own baby. I sure hope that the teacher I will find for my little man is like yours as that would take the load off my chest. I am planning to leave my eldest in a daycare center soon, and since he can be a sensitive little thing, I would really appreciate it if he was left in the hands of someone so reliable.

  28. The last line about this being the most important work is true, and devastating to me. My husband and I sacrifice a lot so that I can be home w my two little ones because IT IS THE GREATEST TASK in the world. How sad that this author recognizes that yet still hands over this unmatched, priceless task to another. Children are such a precious gift. It breaks my heart that more moms don’t make sacrifices to stay home the first few years. Staying home doesn’t have to be forever! I could cry it is so important that moms realize the beautiful gift they have been given by God. I had a great career. I was making more than my husband (who also had a good job), but we don’t need a 400k house and expensive “stuff,” we just need each other. Life is all about people. I have friends who work, and many who see the importance of being a wife and mom first; but how I wish more families would realize how important the first few years are with your babies. It goes so fast and you can never get that time back. I can’t imagine missing my kid’s first word or step because of a career. Honestly, I can’t think of anything more foolish. Being a SAHM is a privilege. And it’s sooo hard! 🙂 my SIL is a new Mom and txt me this week saying “wow I didn’t know how hard being a mom was going to be. I didn’t give moms enough credit.” It’s the never ending job, but so worth it. I wish more moms would take this “job” seriously because there’s nothing like it in the world!

    • Because sacrifices or not, your lucky enough to be able to make it work. Not all people are able to, no matter how much they try. They know what they are missing out on, they don’t need people like you causing them more heartache.

  29. I really liked that you mentioned the hard work that child carers give to learn about the kids that they watch. This is a great quality for those who are trying to care for your children. My sister might like knowing this since she was looking into child care for her son.

  30. I am an educational councellor in 10 daycare centers in Israel. In my country it is the same. Caregivers are underpaid and not enough appreciated. This makes me so sad because I really see the wonderful job they are doing. There are some parents, like the one who wrote the letter, who say thank you in the morning and again at the end of the day.
    At the first PTA meeting of the year I ask parents to please show gratitude. A letter is such a beautiful way. The teacher can read it over and over again and show it to her family so that they too can appreciate her important role.
    Here is to all educarers (RIE) all over the world you are special people who have one of the most important jobs in the world. From birth to 3- it is now known-the most important years for proper attachment and self worth for every human for the rest of his life…
    you are helping parents who need to go to work, to help the future citizens of the world to make it a better world for all of us.

    THANK YOU! Health and happiness and keep us your good work
    Miriam

  31. hello ,i am very impressed this mother took her time to thank her day care teacher, I am sure there are many people who don’t show their appreciation ,and some can even be rude. But all parents should be thankful for without them , you would not be unable to return to work or school ect.

    As for parents who did stay home ,as myself, I had 3 children twins and other child.. Can i go back to work ? No i don’t think so . So what i did, was watch other children so i could stay home i was not able to send my children to a day care . I wish i was able to . Having a job where you change diapers and clean up after children , not one but a handful.those ladies deserves a bonus from all the moms.
    God Bless you !

    just my 2 cents.

    So what i am saying is no matter who is watching your child .Be grateful

  32. Love this! Some parents get it and unfortunately, some never will. Thank you for taking the time to detail the daily experience of a true daycare teacher who is there for the right reasons, despite the stressors!

  33. My daughter is a day care teacher and she put her heart into it every day with a mother of 3 and a husband dog cat and house to take care of everyday she will go to work. Faithfully and take care of outher children like her own I am so proud of her she as become a wonderful great liveing Careing Giveing DAUGHTER that any mom would be houner to have she wonder woman and pround to call her my Daughter keep up the great work Marcia Kohut Cronin

  34. This was such an eye-opening blog! I agree that people don’t give enough praise to these very important teachers in our children’s’ lives. As much as it is wonderful to be appreciated, I’m sure the workers, as selfless as they are, do understand that the parents are busy trying to support their families & are exhausted too. It’s hard to remember to express these things to the wonderful people who assist in your child’s development. That’s not an excuse, just realty. The point of the blog was totally sincere – who cares about the semantics – we all know what she was trying to say. We entrust our most prized little family members to child care educators. They deserve way more credit than I’m sure they ever hear, which makes every compliment & thank you all the more special. It takes special people to go into this career. The love, patience, & nurturing demeanor they have for the children they care for is so admirable. God bless them for the vital role they play in our family’s lives.

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